Author Topic: How about a juicy debate?  (Read 5328 times)

Tona

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2012, 11:11 PM »
Hey Elliott,
If we take it a bit further, in your own monthly club meetings at Sansui Kai, besides the paid demonstrations, would you say that the advanced members take the newer members under their wings and work with them, telling them all that they have learned (secrets). Or would you say that it is  more of a "look what I can do" or "look at my tree" situation. I have my own opinion on that. I am a member of a few clubs including Sansui Kai.
It doesn't only have to be those that studied in Japan that have techniques that they covet and don't let out.
Just throwing another wrench in.
 

nathanbs

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2012, 12:10 AM »
Hey Elliott,
If we take it a bit further, in your own monthly club meetings at Sansui Kai, besides the paid demonstrations, would you say that the advanced members take the newer members under their wings and work with them, telling them all that they have learned (secrets). Or would you say that it is  more of a "look what I can do" or "look at my tree" situation. I have my own opinion on that. I am a member of a few clubs including Sansui Kai.
It doesn't only have to be those that studied in Japan that have techniques that they covet and don't let out.
Just throwing another wrench in.

Unfortunately there is not a whole lot of original information to be shared with young bonsai enthusiasts here in southern california, especially at the local clubs. You can learn just about everything you are going to learn by reading Nakas books volumn 1 & 2.  If you want to learn something that could even be referred to as a secret you must enroll in classes with teachers like Ted Matson, Tak Shimazu, John Wang, Ryan Neil(if you are lucky to snag him when he is down here), David Nguy and maybe only 1 or 2 others. You can always travel to No. Cal and take classes with Boon or go all of the way up to Oregon to work with Ryan. The more controversial issue here in so. cal is the Naka clan that still preach his gospel(CBS). Dont get me wrong I respect and appreciate everything that John Naka did for bonsai in the 60's, 70's, 80's and even into the 90's. But Naka would be the first to say to be open to change and new techniques.  I think that without their leader there has been some stagnation in bonsai here. In my opinion they arent very willing to accept new techniques and young newer members that whether they like it or not will be the future of Southern Cal. bonsai.  Sorry for my rant.
 

Tona

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2012, 12:41 AM »
Perhaps what Nathan said is the problem (reality) that I am seeing at demos, shows, clubs etc. It is slightly old school. I agree with Nathan that there is a Naka clan (and I mean no offense to the great bonsai artist that John Naka was). I also respect the teachers that Nathan mentioned. Perhaps the influence of newer blood such as Ryan will spur new ideas and techniques. As Elliott may be intimating at the start of this discussion, I'm just not sure they will be shared with us mortals.
 

Elliott

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2012, 03:46 AM »
Yeah, what Nathan says. But at Sansui Kai there is no one that I know of holding anything back if they are teaching newbies. There no world class members in that club at this time anyways. There is a certain member who is unfortunately active in the club that is very off putting to new people, but that's his personality, not that he is holding back something.
 Anyways, again, what I'm talking about is something you may have learned from your master in Japan, that is not done by others. Do you share that and if so, with whom?
 99% of what you learn you share and teach, but everything?
I have had someone tell me that they have been told at a study group that they pay alto of $ to be in, not to share the stuff they learn there cause if you have not paid for it, you don't get to use it.
 Again we need to hear from those who are studying in Japan and those who already have and they have not chimed in yet.
Owen; John Wang told me to tell you to go ahead and give us your 2 cents worth LOL!
 

Owen Reich

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2012, 04:22 AM »
Sorry, Repotting has kept me busy.  My two cents is that when I teach, I try to dump as much useful information on the subject as I can and hope that some of it "sticks".  I will share 100% of what I know.  Would it help someone who just started?  Probably not.  It would be impressive though  ;D. I think that each person's conception of bonsai evolves at a different rate.  If you don't have a bullet-proof understanding of basic wiring, that is what a teacher should focus on. Your ability to style a tree well depends on it. Crappy wiring = crappy bends, broken branches, bad branch angles, etc.  The reference John K made about wiring is true.  You can show someone how to wire, but after wiring my first few trees here under a Super Critical eye, my technique improved dramatically. 

I love teaching and it also keeps me conscious of little things I should remember myself from time to time. Money does play a role in all this of course.  However, after being slowly bled information by some teachers when I started my bonsai life, I will never do that.  "We're doing a pine workshop, not maples today......"  >:(.  I'd rather overwhelm a student than leave them pissed off and feeling swindled.
 

Owen Reich

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2012, 05:23 AM »
I feel that a good teacher will be in demand and people who are not qualified or are bad teachers will fade away.  Nowadays, everything is connected and there is no point in hiding anything.  There is of course, misinformation and different ways of accomplishing the same goal.  This is the tough part.  While I enjoy reading blogs and write articles for newsletters and other publications, my heart is in the YouTube series.  Facebook works well for photos and such.  If Bjorn and I do a good job, those videos can be re-watched later once you have more experience on a given task and something will "click".  While I support printed and written bonsai publications completely, the future is in DVD's like Boon's, YouTube, and others. 

Should I be compensated for voluntarily subjecting myself to a life of bonsai b!*<h work?  If I'm a good teacher and help you enjoy and improve your bonsai, yes.  Coming to Japan doesn't make you good at bonsai.  Can't hurt though.
 

Owen Reich

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2012, 09:49 AM »
I do not think it's possible to share absolutely everything we learn from being in Japan now that I thought about it more.  Some of it is just experiece.  Studying here exposes you to thousands of bonsai made from small group of plant species; both good and bad.  I'm required to evaluate a tree's qualities and come up with a shortlist of strengths and weaknesses for a tree quickly.  Michael Hagerdorn's book refers to getting an "eye for bonsai" and recognizing a "good tree".  That's tough to teach someone in America, but possible. 

One final thought which may get some people fired up in regards to John Naka; not trying to start anything just want some civil feedback of my own.  This is purely my opinion and I never knew the man.  It seems to me that he wrote those two books with a lot of ultimatums and dogma in order to help people new to bonsai have some stable footing from which to set off from.  He may have been constantly haggled for "rules" and so on by his students and laid out the text in a way easier for Westerners to understand.     
 

nathanbs

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2012, 11:58 AM »
One final thought which may get some people fired up in regards to John Naka; not trying to start anything just want some civil feedback of my own.  This is purely my opinion and I never knew the man.  It seems to me that he wrote those two books with a lot of ultimatums and dogma in order to help people new to bonsai have some stable footing from which to set off from.  He may have been constantly haggled for "rules" and so on by his students and laid out the text in a way easier for Westerners to understand.     

Yes i certainly agree and maybe to make it more controversial its very similiar to another book that a man or men wrote thats typically bound in black.
 

nathanbs

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2012, 12:24 PM »
Owen thanks for chiming in. By the way did you or do you know of any apprenticeship programs that make you sign any type of confidentiality agreement?
 

jtucker

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2012, 12:34 PM »
Excellent thread! I've been enjoying reading in and I'm impressed with all of my forum-mates for keeping a civil, intelligent and thoughtful conversation  going (I feel like this would've exploded somehow on other forums).

So we have several different types of teachers in our club that I've had experience with. One person says, "Come on over, let's work on some trees. Help me trim/repot/wire/whatever." You go over there, work all day, and learn a ton in  the process. This person buys or makes you lunch and it's a great time and I've never gone over there and not learned something valuable and interesting. I don't know if this person has ever charged anyone for a lesson, ever.

Next person charges people for lessons, takes care of trees for clients, etc. However, if this person knows you, you're free to come over during business hours and hang out and talk or help out. Again, I've never gone over there and NOT learned something, even if my sole purpose was to go over and buy/pick up some trees and head out (somehow that usually takes no less than an hour or so...)

Third person charges for lessons, workshops, everything. Lessons are very formal and focused on a specific topic, and usually at the end it's, let's get back together in a couple months, and I'll charge you x dollars then. Several have commented that this person does the "teach, but don't teach everything" style, and this person has also remarked over and over about how his/her teachers taught in the "teach, but don't teach everything" style.

All three people are thought of very highly in the club and all three are very generous with their time, talent, energy and material donations to the club. At some point, I've heard people say that each person's trees are superior to at least one of the others for some reason or other. Being I don't have a great eye for judging between the various levels of "good" bonsai. I can tell between good and bad bonsai, but that's as far as I'll claim.

I've spent most of my time between the first two instructors, but I've also benefitted from the times I've spent with the third. Each has a strong following of devotees. I think it really depends on the student and what they think they are getting for their money or lack thereof. Perhaps in America many of us prefer things like the current political situation, polarized and simplified (being x means you can't be y). If you work with this teacher, you don't work with that teacher, etc. I don't think this is the way to go. We need to be intelligent consumers of information, whether you get it from a teacher, book, or the internet. Talk to as many people as possible, learn from as many people as possible, work with as many people as possible.

As a schoolteacher by trade, I tend towards the teach everything to everybody. However, after teaching Hot Cross Buns to middle school band kids for 4 years straight, I was thrilled to teach something more advanced. Maybe with bonsai it would be the same thing: once I had a student/apprentice who was ready for something advanced/tricky/secret, I'd be overjoyed to share it :-)
 

Elliott

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #25 on: March 25, 2012, 12:38 PM »


Yes i certainly agree and maybe to make it more controversial its very similiar to another book that a man or men wrote thats typically bound in black.
[/quote]

HeeeHeeeHeeee

Nate, I'm so proud of you. Someone hand me a tissue.
 

Owen Reich

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #26 on: March 25, 2012, 06:48 PM »
I've never heard of a confidentiality agreement for an apprentice before.  I think fear is a powerful motivator for some, while the highest possible level of respect for your teacher could be another factor; or both.  It's all about teaching styles.  My teacher has taken the time to train me and deal with all the hassle of a non-fluent (in ever aspect of Japanese life including language) foriegn apprentice and take big losses in the short term.  I've basically been adopted.  If my sensei asked me to stop doing something publicly like the video series or writing about sensitive subject, I would.  My teacher doesn't tell meneverything at once, but gives me pieces of the puzzle along the way.  Sometimes it's a "reward" for doing good work.
 

bwaynef

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #27 on: March 25, 2012, 08:04 PM »
My teacher doesn't tell meneverything at once, but gives me pieces of the puzzle along the way.  Sometimes it's a "reward" for doing good work.

What an AWESOME motivational tool.
 

Chrisl

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2012, 10:07 AM »
My teacher doesn't tell meneverything at once, but gives me pieces of the puzzle along the way.  Sometimes it's a "reward" for doing good work.

What an AWESOME motivational tool.

No Doubt!!
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: How about a juicy debate?
« Reply #29 on: March 26, 2012, 11:46 AM »
So, what's he do for punishment?  :)